Being an author in a heavily digital age can be a challenge when it comes to marketing a book. In this episode we are diving into the world of self-publishing and talking with Jason Logsdon of Amazing Food Made Easy about how to promote your book using effective marketing strategies.
Even if the thought of writing a book is only a distant possibility, by the end of our discussion you just might find yourself inspired to get cracking on your first book! It has been on my dream list for quite a while to write a book on Pinterest marketing. After listening to Jason’s tips on how to self-publish, I’m definitely on fire to potentially lean into that in 2022.
In this episode, we talk all about:
- how writing a book is very “doable”
- the benefits of book authorship
- why you should avoid traditional publishing
- and so many other valuable tips.
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Let’s dive into self-publishing and how to market your book with Jason.
Backed by 12 years of blogging experience, self-publishing 13 books, traditionally publishing two books and hosting several podcasts, Jason started his Makin’ Bacon! blog to help food and lifestyle bloggers monetize their blogs beyond the ad network.
All of these experiences led to the creation of his master course, Self-Publishing Made Easy.
how to write a book fast
Twenty years ago, authors who self-published a book were often responsible for financing, promoting, and distributing the book.
Now, when Jason finishes writing a book, he puts it up on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing service (better know as Amazon KDP). When someone purchases your book on Amazon, Amazon prints it and ships it directly to the customer. With this method of publishing, there are almost no upfront costs or fulfillment responsibilities. You can devote 100% of your time to writing a book and promoting it to your audience.
According to Jason, self-publishing a book can be accomplished in one month if you know what you’re doing. He says timing depends a lot on your goals and how familiar you are with your topic. But in reality, most people take 6-12 months to get a book out (especially if they haven’t been planning the process ahead of time).
If you have future plans to write a book, Jason suggests that you do some planning about the content you’d like to include in that book when choosing topics to cover on your blog. When Jason wrote his second cookbook, 90% of the content was from his blog. He had been writing about sous vide cooking and recipes on his blog for a long time. When he was ready to publish his cookbook, he gathered the content from his blog, packaged it differently, and published it as a book.
Jason says this approach can really speed up the process of publishing a book. This is similar to the content repurposing strategies we’ve talked about a lot recently here on the Simple Pin Podcast.
If you use Jason’s repurposing strategy, you will already be established as an expert on your topic because you’ve been writing about it for years on your blog. By publishing a book, you can then reach a totally new audience.
Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing
We often think of book publishing in the traditional sense.
Jason admits there is definitely still an advantage to being able to say I have a book deal. In fact, when he is speaking at a conference, he will lead by saying that he has two traditionally published books. Somehow that carries more clout and a greater sense of authority than saying he has self-published 13 books. If you plan to use your book to build your brand and get speaking opportunities at some of the top conferences, being associated with a well-known publishing company in your industry is huge.
However, Jason stressed that self-publishing has a lot less stigma associated with it now than it used to. Amazon has weeded out a lot of garbage that used to be out there and has become better at promoting good content.
Jason says there are two big reasons to choose the self-publishing route.
The first reason is because no one wants to publish your book. Jason got started in self-publishing his sous vide cookbooks for this reason.
No one in their right mind was going to publish a book, especially a cookbook about a topic almost no one knew about, for a blogger and author that has a very small following.— Jason
A lot of successful content creators and entrepreneurs are in very specific niches. They have a relatively small following when looking through the lens of traditional publishers who want to get three to five times their investment back. If 20,000 people aren’t going to buy your book because you have such a specific niche, then publishers aren’t going to be interested in it.
However, self-publishing is a different story. If you can make $5 on a book and you sell 1000 copies, you have earned $5000. Jason has been able to make six figures from his self-published book sales.
The second big reason to self-publish is to have control of the process.
When you self-publish, you can write your book exactly the way you envision. Self-publishing eliminates all the hassle of meeting publisher expectations. Self-publishing also gives those of us in smaller niches the freedom to reach exactly who we want to reach and to determine how that is going to happen.
How to Promote Your Book
You’ve written your book, self-published it, and you’re ready for people to buy. How do you get the word out?
Show Up Where Your Audience Is Hanging Out
Jason says that in general, the best way to get the word out about your book is to go to where you’ve always found your people. You need to market your book wherever you have been marketing your content.
If you are huge on TikTok then start there. If you are huge in the public speaking circuit then you should market your book there. If you’ve been blogging and building an audience in a specific direction, then writing a book that serves that audience and allows you to tap into them, is the quickest way to get sales.
Keep Your Book Top of Mind for Your Followers
Another tip from Jason is to keep your book top of mind for people.
You need to let your audience know your book is available by using a subtle approach. For example, if you’re blogging about a recipe you might say, ‘Here’s a recipe from my book’ and add a nice image.
You don’t want to keep hammering them with ‘I have a book. Buy it. I have a book. Buy it.’ That’s not going to be effective.— Jason
Using pre-sales as a strategy really depends on your audience in Jason’s opinion. He definitely supports putting your book out there by mentioning it often on whatever platform you use. Jason says he has even talked about his next book before the topic has been settled, saying something like:
“Hey all, I’m thinking about one of these three topics. Do you have any thoughts? Which one do you think I should do next?“
He’s also taken the approach of putting images of a few recipes out on social media that he is testing for his next book. He’s also asked for feedback from his audience on selecting book covers he’s choosing between.
These strategies provide his audience with a behind-the-scenes peek to capture their attention. Jason says it’s all about getting the information out there early and consistently so that when you announce your presale, the audience is already warmed up.
Here at Simple Pin, our students often ask if they should give away a sneak peak or a chapter of a book as an email opt in incentive. There are those who wonder if that is giving too much value away. Jason believes this strategy is very effective and he loves giving away sneak peeks as a lead magnet for a new book.
If you give away the first chapter of your book and that’s too much value, then you should probably be looking at the content of your other chapters.— Jason
Sharing parts of your book can also serve as validation for your audience that there is value in what you are writing. It also gives them the opportunity to see your work so they can gauge if they will enjoy your writing style.
Email Marketing for Authors Works Well
Jason’s favorite platform for marketing his books is email. When it’s time to announce that his next book is available for purchase, he goes to his email list of 20,000 fans who have followed him for years. He has already warmed them up in advance by mentioning his book often using the strategies mentioned above.
Related: Is Email Marketing Dead?
Jason says he gets two to three hundred sales in the first week with this approach. That may not sound like much, but Jason says it is enough for Amazon to take note. Once a few hundred sales occur, he typically finds his book on Amazon’s hot list of new releases. He also finds himself showing up on the top page when people search for sous vide.
All of a sudden, Amazon is now marketing him and his book to its audience!
Use Your Website as a Marketing Tool
Jason’s second go-to platform is his website. Every article that is about sous vide on his website mentions that he has a book.
A word of advice — don’t make it difficult for people to find your book! Make sure you link to it across many areas of your website. He even suggests mentioning it at the bottom of your Pinterest pins, making a note that the content they are viewing is related to a book that’s available. People coming from Pinterest typically represent a cold audience. They need to be warmed up to your content. As Pinterest marketers we need to be very aware of this.
Jason says even true fans often don’t pay attention to all the pre-advertising you do on your blog. When it comes to people who find you through SEO or referral from a post, they won’t have any idea that you have a cookbook out there if you don’t have a clear link to it on your website.
You have probably heard that old marketing adage — It can take seven to ten exposures before a purchase decision is made. Eventually, with repeated exposure to this messaging, readers will eventually realize you have a book they might want to purchase. You just need to keep getting the information out in front of your audience on a regular basis.
The Most Common Self-Publishing Mistakes to Avoid
When we discussed common mistakes that self-publishers make, Jason says the first one is writing a book before you know what you are trying to accomplish with it. Making big decisions about your book that aren’t informed by an ultimate goal can have a huge negative impact on your profit.
For example, making a decision to publish a pretty book can be great for building a portfolio to highlight your services or expand your brand. But that is not the book you want to publish if your goal is to make money from book sales.
If you’re trying to make money you need to keep costs as low as possible. You won’t want to put out a hardcover book with 250 full-color pages. Those decisions eat up profits quickly (to the tune of 80-85%).
There are many different purposes behind writing a book, but there are trade offs with the initial decisions you make. Be sure that your decisions are well-informed. Jason brought this point home using my desire to write a book about Pinterest marketing as an example.
I could write a book about Pinterest marketing with a goal to sell 10-20,000 copies to the large number of fans I have in my network and bring in a bunch of money.
On the other hand, I might have a goal of talking about high-level, overall Pinterest strategies because I want to be known as a Pinterest expert.
The content in this type of book would be more about the types of strategies that inform an entire business like Fortune 500 companies. It would be specifically designed to showcase my expert knowledge.
The content of these books would be vastly different from each other. As Jason points out, both could move me forward as a business owner. The decision for which type of book to write rests completely in my “why”.
How to Market Your Book: Final Thoughts
Jason hasn’t really ventured much into Pinterest himself, but he knows that people come to Pinterest to achieve specific things. If you put out pins that will help them accomplish what they are interested in then you will get noticed and you will get traffic.
He says the same thing applies to your book. Figure out what problems people are trying to solve that your book will address and determine how you can create pins related to that.
Create a sales funnel that drives traffic to your book. If you are trying to get click-through traffic, make sure that you are promoting your book in a clear and straightforward way on your landing pages.
If you are selling high-ticket items, Jason believes that books are a great tripwire product. You have to create trust with your audience if you want to sell higher-ticket items. Books go a long way to building that kind of trust.
People perceive someone who has written a book as more of an authority than someone who hasn’t.
In Jason’s experience, people are more willing to pull the purchase trigger on a book than on a class, video course, or a pricey product in most industries. It’s no big deal for them to spend $9 for a book on their Kindle. Think about that! How many books are on your Kindle that you have not read?!
If you’ve had even an inkling of a desire to write a book and self-publish, I highly encourage you to go check out what Jason has to offer and get some answers to your questions.
For Further Listening/Reading: